Kirkland Parish

  > Is bounded on the west side by the Eden, and on the north by Ousby and Langwathby, on the south by Crowdundle Beck, which divides it from Westmorland, and on the east by Cross Fell, which separates it from Alston. It contains the chapelry of Culgaitb, and the two townships of Kirkland with Blencarn, and Skirwith. The soil in Culgaith and Kirkland is deep and fertile, at Skirwith light and sandy, and at Blencarn a strong clay. Coal was wrought some years ago at Ardale Head; and a lead mine has been for several years working at Bulman's Cleugh, on Cross Fell, in Crackenthorpe's manor of bank, where there is a smelt mill for dressing and refining the ore. Cross Fell is an immense mountain, 20 miles in circumference at the base, and rises to the height of 2901 feet above the level of the sea. Its very summit is covered with various kinds of moss, though it consists of loose whitish freestone. On its declivities are a variety of herbs and minerals; and it is crowned with snow and clouds during the greater part of the year. The temperature1 of the water of the Gentlemans' Well, which is a little below the summit, is nearly the same in February as July, viz., between 35 and 36. About 45 years ago, a sheep after being 14 weeks covered with snow, at the foot of Cross Fell, came out alive, and was fed the following year. The spectator on a clear day may behold from this mountain a great portion of six counties, though he appears to be overlooked by four or five superior eminences in the vast chain of mountains called the English Appenines, and extending from the Tweed to Derbyshire. The parish of Kirkland comprises 6361 acres, of the rateable value of 5528, and in 1841, contained 887 inhabitants. The principal landowners are Lady le Fleming, of Rydal Hall, Westmorland; Wm. Crackenthorp, Esq., Newbiggin Hall; William Parker, Esq., Skirwith Abbey; and Lieut. Col. McLean, of Carlisle. The Helm Wind, which affects this and the neighbouring parishes, is described here.

Kirkland is a scattered village, forming a township with Blencarn, or Blencairn, and is distant 10 miles E. by N. of Penrith. The township contains 1542 acres, of the rateable value of 1449, and about 233 souls. The manor of Kirkland is small, consisting only of four or five enfranchised tenements, held under Lady le Fleming. The church, dedicated to St. Lawrence the Martyr, was rebuilt in 1768, and consists of a nave and chancel, with a bell turret. The old church, which was much larger, contained the mutilated effigy of a man in armour, with his sword sheathed. It now fills a niche in the exterior of the edifice, and is supposed to represent one of the Flemings, several of whom were buried here. There is in the south wall of the chancel a piscina, with a trefoil canopy: and in the church yard is an ancient stone cross with steps. The benefice was anciently in the patronage of the bishops of Carlisle; and was rectorial till the reign of Henry VI, when it was granted , and soon after appropriated, to the dean and convent of Carlisle. It is now a vicarage, in the patronage of the dean and chapter, and incumbency of the Rev. Jas. W. Huntley, A.M., for whom the Rev. John Aldersey, A.M. officiates. It is valued in the king's books at 8. 10s. but is now worth about 220 per annum. The patrons have the great tithes of Skirwith and Culgaith, and lease them out to the Acornbank family, reserving to the vicar the small yearly rent of 6s. 8d. The Roman road, called the Maiden way, is very conspicuous in many parts of this parish, as on the Bank-ridge, and about two hundred yards from this road, near Ranbeck, are three artificial terraces, called the Hanging Walls of Mark Antony, but no possible reason has been assigned for that name. They rise one above the other, and are 200 yards in length, having between each of them a plain ten yards in breadth, and at the top the remains of large buildings.

Blencarn, or Blencairn, is a village and manor, situate 9 miles E. Of Penrith. This manor was part of the large barony of Adam Fitz Swein, and afterwards of his descendants, the Nevills; and having been forfeited to the crown, by the attainder of Sir Andrew de Hercla, it was granted, in 1340, by Edward II to William Langleys, or English, whose daughter brought it the Restwolds family, from whom it passed by sale to the Loughs, one of whose descendants, Lough Carleton, Esq. by will, in 1792, enfranchised all the tenants. The Free School was founded in 1775, by the landowners of the two townships of Culgaith and Blencarn, and endowed with 100 acres of land on Culgaith moor. This estate, together with a voluntary subscription, produces 53 10s. a year, for which the school is free to all the children of Culgaith and Blencarn. Dr. Todd says that the hermitage of St. Andrew, which was given by Adam Fitz Swein, "to the abbot of St. Mary's, York, and to the monks of Wedderhall stood near Culgaith. Here is a Methodist chapel, built a few years since.

Culgaith is a long, straggling village, half a mile east of the Eden, and 1 mile north of Temple Sowerby. This township, which contains 2689 acres, of the rateable value of 1859, and about 361 inhabitants, has a dependent manor of the barony Adam Fitz-Swein, from whose two daughters it passed by marriage to several families. Lady Knevett sold the wastelands called the Parks, to Henry Crackenthorpe, Esq., and all the manorial rights to four feoffees, except one estate, called Kirk Andrews, which was conveyed by the abbot of St. Mary, in York, to Sir Michael de Hercla, Knt., in the reign of Edward I, and which is holden as a parcel of the earl of Thanet's manor of Milburne Grange. Lady Knevett reserved only a free-rent of 28 4s. Id. which she afterwards sold to the Dalstons of Avon-bank. The Chapel of Ease, dedicated to All Saints, which was rebuilt in 1758, was founded at a very early period by a lord of the manor. In 1456, the pope issued a commission of enquiry respecting the non-celebration of mass during the week in this chapel. It was given by Adam. Fitz-Swein to the priory of Pomfret. The living has received three sums of 200 each from queen Anne's bounty, besides several donations, amounting collectively to about 900, part of which was expended in rebuilding the chapel, and the rest was laid out in the purchase of land. The chapel is a plain building, partly covered with ivy. The vicar of Kirkland is patron of the curacy, which is now worth about 90 a year, and the Rev. Robert Keen is the present incumbent. In cultivating the commons, in 1775, several urns, filled with ashes, were found; and in 1785, two large vaults were opened, and in one of them were found four urns, standing upright. Here is a Methodist chapel, built in 1830.

Skirwith is a large and irregularly built village, on both sides of a small rivulet, 3 miles N. of Temple Sowerby, and seven miles E. by N. of Penrith. The manor was another part of the barony of Adam Fitz-Swein, and after passing through various families, it was purchased in 1606, by Agnes, widow of William Fleming, Esq., whose descendant, Sir Michael le Fleming, enfranchised the tenants. It is now held by lady le Fleming, of Rydal Hall. The manor house, called Skirwith Hall, was taken down in 1795, and a farm house built on its site. Skirwith Abbey, the residence of William Parker, Esq., is a modern mansion, said to be erected near the site of a religious house, supposed to have belonged to the Knights' Templars. Mr Parker purchased it in 1822, together with the surrounding estate of major Aglionby, of Nunnery. The pleasure grounds are laid out in goodtaste. This township contains 2130 acres, of the rateable value of 2220, and a population of about 300 souls. Mr. Parker has built a handsome Inn, and some neat cottages in the village, which add much to its appearance. A School was built here by subscription, in 1828. Lady le Fleming and W. Parker. Esq. each gave 20 towards its erection, and the former bestows upon it an annual gratuity of 20 for the encouragement of the master. There is here also a Wesleyan chapel.2


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847




1. The temperatures of the well water are, of course, in Fahrenheit; these equate to one or two degrees in Centigrade.
2. At the end of the Skirwith entry, a reference to the local charities has been omitted.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman